Our Monarch Butterfly Habitat is now part of a larger Pollinator Habitat at Lac Courte Agriculture Research Station in Hayward, WI.
Photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall
Our Monarch Butterfly Habitat is now part of a larger Pollinator Habitat at Lac Courte Agriculture Research Station in Hayward, WI.
Photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall
The nonprofit is handling many programs already in WI, including managing a Monarch Butterfly Habitat and collaborating with City of Shell Lake on widening Route 63, which leads into Shell Lake, going past the Habitat. Sandy Stein, secretary, will attend a meeting in Shell Lake to address widening of road right-of-ways that will affect the Habitat.
She will send a report after the meeting to keep me up-to-date. I have already been engaged with Shell Lake in requesting that the disturbed road right-of-ways need to be planted with native seed. If any of the hard-scape and landscaping is moved, than it is up to the City of Shell Lake and WI DOT to remove/replace what ever is infringed upon.
Be happy Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.
by Mary Ellen Ryall
April 20 – In honor of Earth Day, Jim VanMoorleham and I planted five native chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) shrubs in area three, near the Memory Tree Grove, at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. Black chokeberry is a deciduous, cold hardy shrub useful in landscape plantings, showing white flowers in the spring, colorful red foliage, and heavy dark fruit in the fall.
April 24 – Today I saw a white cabbage and a fritillary butterfly. The fritillary’s host plant is violet; flowers are in bloom. Butterfly sightings were posted to Wisconsin Butterfly Organization at http://wisconsinbutterflies.org/Individuals may record their butterfly sightings at this site. Kids would enjoy this activity as much as adults do. The project allows us to understand butterfly population trends.
I am happy to report that my book, “My Name is Butterfly,” is now available at Gadsden Public Library in Gadsden, AL. I am thrilled that libraries around the country are purchasing the book for children. Book postcards also went to the State Library Convention in AL where it was given exposure to other librarians.
According to ABC News, “A female Baringo giraffe calf at the Bronx Zoo was enjoying the warm New York weather over the weekend while frolicking with a butterfly that flew through her exhibit. The butterfly caught the newborn baby’s eye while she was nuzzling her mom and exploring her new home. The calf was born in March but has not yet been named, according to the Bronx Zoo. All of the zoo’s giraffes are named in memory of James and Margaret Carter, benefactors for the Carter Giraffe Building.” You can view the chase at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/baby-giraffe-chases-butterfly-bronx-zoo-16151869
April 25 – My recipe for Squash Bread was a winner at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College Sustainability Living Fair. The bread was chosen for Jiibaakweyang, We are Cooking Together, Flavors of Lac Courte Oreilles. I was delighted to share saved squash seed with attendees. The acorn squash grew in the Three Sisters Garden at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in 2011. Seed sharing is all about stories of where seed comes from. At the fair, Sheldon Spratford gave me beautiful corn husks. He reported that his grandmother grew the corn until the 1980s, when she passed away. He found one husk of dried corn at her house afterwards and saved it. Sheldon, an elder, mentioned that he has been growing the sweet corn since the 1990s. He mentioned that the corn is sweet and small. Happy Tonics will offer the seed at several environmental events in May. The Visitors Center/Store will be open for the season on Memorial Weekend. We invite you to stop by for sweet corn seed.
April 26 – Journey North reported that the monarch migration moved into five new U.S. states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota this past week. The cold snap is keeping monarchs away from Shell Lake; there is no milkweed up yet in the habitat. Let us hope that a warming spell will begin soon.
Carol Hubin reported on April 28 that milkweed is up on her property in Shell Lake. Keep your eyes posted. If you spot a monarch, please let us know if it is a faded butterfly or freshly born. Knowing the difference will allow Happy Tonics to record the following: Did the butterfly fly all the way from Mexico or is this the first generation of butterfly in the U. S.? Female butterflies will need milkweed to lay their eggs on. Female butterflies only live a few weeks after depositing eggs.
In 2012, we are going to count monarch eggs at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and mark milkweed plants that have eggs. Wire cages with tags will be used to identify which milkweed plants have eggs. If you have any old tomato cages to donate or see a monarch sighting, please call Mary Ellen at (715) 466-5349.
April 28 – 5th Annual Earth Day Event in Shell Lake was well attended. We are grateful to Dr. John Anderson and Ginger Wilcox for leading us in a Native American Ceremony to honor donors. Butterfly friends came to celebrate the butterfly and conservation efforts on behalf of the butterfly. Happy Tonics hosted an informal potluck afterwards at the Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, Shell Lake.
Roundup kills milkweed, the only host plant of the monarch butterfly. Citizen scientists have known for a few years now that the decline of milkweed is due to pesticide use which has depleted monarch populations in the Midwest where most of GMO corn and soy crop is planted now. What was once a diverse pollinator corridor has been reduced to remnant tallgrass prairie. Prairie has gone down by 90 percent in the USA.
Happy Tonics created a restored native tallgrass prairie, as a Monarch Butterfly Habitat, in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. We must do more. Gardeners need to plant milkweed to enable the monarch butterfly to rebound.
January 3, 2012 – I received an email asking for help. A black swallowtail butterfly was born in a home in Saint Paul, MN. I could hardly believe it. How was this possible? Erin Pryor Pavlica needed to know what nectar sources to offer the butterfly. The butterfly formed a chrysalis in November and Erin brought it inside. The butterfly emerged on January 3. Normally butterflies don’t need nectar for 24-48 hours after they emerge. I suggested she try sweet fruit such as an orange and sugar water. Butterflies taste with their feet. The next day, Erin reported that the butterfly did not taste the orange. She was going to try sugar water next.
Erin posted her story on Facebook. Many people around the country answered with suggestions and some had tried similar nectar for butterflies born out of season in their own homes. All agreed that it would be impossible to move the butterfly. There is an average of 560 species of swallowtails. Many are brilliant and live in the tropics. The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake is home to the yellow Canadian Tiger swallowtail in season. Normally the butterfly overwinters outside in the pupal stage. Some swallowtails may spend more than a year like this. I imagine that the home, being heated, was too warm and triggered a different response. Perhaps this is why the butterfly emerged in winter. Surely the butterfly was out of its natural life cycle and habitat.
The black swallowtail is thriving. The butterfly has enjoyed sipping from a rotten old apple and an aged squashed banana. On Saturday, Erin said, “Yes, I have several cotton pads with sugar solution soaked into them. I put fresh solution out several times a day. The butterfly is usually active after eating!”
I would like to mention that Erin had a baby girl, Quinn Mae, on New Year’s Eve. She is thrilled that the black swallowtail butterfly arrived within days of the child’s birth. I invited the family to visit Shell Lake next summer. I look forward to celebrating the butterfly baby at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. Quinn Mae won’t be the first butterfly baby to be remembered at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat.
January 24 – Environmental Film Fest, 12 Noon, Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwa Community College, 13466 W Trepania Road, Hayward. Film: WATERBUSTER. The film is about the effects of the Gannon Dam on the Missouri River and how a family, which is one of the WATERBUSTER clan, was torn apart and their journey back to wholeness again. Susan Menzel, Tribal collage intern, stated she watched the film and drew parallels about Lac Courte Oreilles history. There was a time when the tribe was flooded to create the Chippewa Flowage in 1924 and the Winter Dam was installed. The Dam was turned over to LCO in the 1970s. Speaker to be announced. The event is open to the community.
December 6, 2011 – 12 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College
13466 N. Trepania Road, Haoward, WI
Environmental Film Festival
Below is a video clip. See and Listen to Clayton Thomas-Müller of Alberta, Canada, explain why he is a protector of the Earth. Clayton Thomas-Muller is a leader in the movement to stop the Alberta Keystone XL Pipeline. I heard from him recently with a recommendation of two Wisconsin environmental advocates:
Patricia Popple, Concerned Chippewa Citizens will speak about silica sand mines and the health and environmental risk.
Frank Koehn will speak about the Bad River Iron Ore Mine that could pollute 23 waterways of Bad River Reservation. It isn’t only Koehn and Bad River that are concerned about fresh drinking water.
Happy Tonics and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC) and LCO Public Library are also concerned. This is way we are sponsoring the III Annual Environmental Film Fest at LCOOCC.
Learn about mining and pipelines that could contaminate precious free flowing clean water. Wisconsin is known for its pristine environment. We must protect these natural resources for our own health and for the health of future generations. Natural resources are a gift from one generation to another and should not be allowed to come to harm.
If we don’t accept responsibility now for what is happening to the earth, when? This is our last chance to stop dirty fuel which will put us at such high emissions that the “game will be up,” according to some scientists and environmental organizations.
October 21 – The environmental film Hummingbirds by Nature was shown at Terraceview Living Center. Film crews used special cameras to capture 500 images a second. These wondrous tiny birds are the only bird species that can hover, fly backwards and fly vertical. I have seen male hummingbirds perch near a nectar source in order to defend their territory. The film showed one species of hummingbird that was trained by a flower. In the tropics, intoxicating datura flowers grow and only the sword bill hummingbird with its extra long bill can pollinate the flower. The movie literally shows the tiny bird as magic in the air. Hummingbirds are the smallest warm bodied creatures on the planet. They are fast and their wings can beat up to 200 times every second.
After the event I stopped by City Hall to chat with Mayor Sally Peterson. She donated the 2010 donor fee for Terraceview in memory of her mother Angeline (Angie) Klopp. It just so happened that October 21 was her mother’s birthday. Mayor Peterson said, “My mother loved hummingbirds.” It was a good feeling to know that the first film to celebrate the fall had an intention beyond simply showing a film.
October 22 – Happy Tonics, Inc. held its Annual Meeting at Lakeview Bar and Restaurant. Officers and board are currently exploring long term plans and goals for the nonprofit and the Restored Remnant Tallgrass Prairie. The purpose is to insure that both the public charity and habitat are secure into the future. The Monarch Butterfly Habitat, two blocks north of downtown Shell Lake, is on the long range Comprehensive Plan for Shell Lake.
Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to improve Route 63 near the habitat which in turn will naturally become a Pollinating Corridor. This improvement could benefit the Highway Bettering the Economy and Environmental Act (Highway BEE Act), Bill H.R. 2381. Happy Tonics is involved with Pollinator Partnership which says, “The bill promotes conservation practices on 17 million acres of highway rights-of-ways (ROWs) by encouraging reduced mowing and native plantings that provide improved habitat for pollinators, ground nesting birds and other small wildlife.”
Another consideration for Happy Tonics is the state owned DNR land on the south side of Shell Lake. In years to come the City plans to upgrade the woodland trails. This would allow more opportunities for the public to visit the Wild Butterfly Habitat that is maintained by the nonprofit on the south side of Shell Lake.
Art in the butterfly habitat. In the summer of 2010, a metal art sculpture was placed in the Memory Tree Grove at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. The art was made possible by generous people who wanted to honor my husband who died (July 4, 2010). He was a generous financial donor to the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and Happy Tonics, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization.
Saturday, July 30- There were thunderstorms surrounding the valley in late afternoon. Water sisters arrived at the Hospitality House in Minong. We began by dressing up in skirts. Sandy Stein mentioned that when women wear a shawl and skirt it represents mountains and being close to Mother Earth. A skirt worn in ceremony is respectful and helps women remember that we are feminine energy and connected to Mother Earth. We put our sacred items together to carry them out to the sand dunes. I had on my glass water pendent that Worth Cooley-Prost had made for me. Sandy wore her medicine bag. It is good for women to have their very own medicine bag. We have several small beaded butterfly medicine bags made by an elder Marilyn Vig, Rice Lake, WI. I will exhibit and offer them for sale in September at our online store at http://stores.ebay.com/happytonics
While still at the house we witnessed a rainbow. This was a beautiful sign.
Then it started to lightly rain again as we walked to the sand dunes. Sandy Stein said, “Rain is good.” I responded, “After all we are praying for the water.” We felt blessed as we entered Sacred Space and the rain began to lighten up and then stop.
Sandy, Deborah and Godavari met the sweet fern for the first time that is now growing over the dune and into the site. I love this fern, years ago I put my intentions on the fern and wished that the fern would climb the dunes from the other side. Each of them smelled the plant and were joyous when they smelled the sweet fragrance having never smelled anything like it before. I reminded water sisters that we needed to be silent as we entered Sacred Space.
We put our individual sacred items on the blanket alter in the sand. Before we began the Nibi Wabo (Water Song) each of us added our pure water to the water bowl to marry the waters. We tried to smudge but couldn’t get a match to light the sacred sage; it was too damp. We each took a pinch of tobacco in our left hand. In turn each spoke their intentions of remembrance before beginning ceremony and added a pinch of tobacco to the basswood Two Headed Bear Dream Bowl handmade by Frank Galli. The bowl was made especially for Water Ceremony offerings. Then I gave a short talk on the observations of water to the sisters.
Message: Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer is one of the Ambassadors of the White Buffalo Family in Oregon. She is with them now and doing ceremony as we stand in circle. Worth Cooley-Prost is traveling from Arlington, VA to the Carolinas. Worth is standing with us in ceremony at the same hour where ever she is. I remembered Shelley Ruth Wyndham, Cape Town, South Africa, who asked that she be remembered each time we stand in Water Ceremony. She is with us in ceremony. Mother Earth is going through a Great Cleansing and weather is and will become more violent. We are to stand firmly grounded to the earth and hold any fear in our feet which is solidly planted in communication with Mother Earth. We are not to let fear rise up through our bodies. We are not to be afraid when great and turbulent changes occur around us. We are to know that Mother Earth is protecting us. We are the Water Walkers, water sisters and water teachers.As women we are called to protect water. We are not alone. We are here to grow in healing energy work as we band together all over the world. Each of us in our own environment is here to teach others not to be afraid and to help people cross over the rainbow road after a storm. We are here at this moment to personally adapt to Climate Change and its consequences. We need to learn what our agricultural plant growing zone is and may be in the predicted future. We need to plant appropriately while we look towards the future. Current plant zoning is changing. In Northwest Wisconsin instead of planting the same species of downed trees ( Birch, Red Pine and Jack Pine) of the last storm in Minong on July 1, we need to look at a zone or two further south and plant accordingly. We need to personally adapt and teach others to adapt. There is no sense in old programming of being alarmed when our immediate world is changing and negatively lamenting the changes. If we survive I believe this is sufficient enough to be grateful. The solution: Think positive because we are still here doing our work. Adapt! This is the message.
Then we sang to the four direction, using our birch bark clapping sticks. The clouds were getting black and thunder clouds came closer. After concluding the Water Song we ended ceremony sooner, packed up our ceremonial objects and headed back to the Hospitality House. Before we left the sand dunes, Sandy put down the sacred items she brought to the ceremony. These were a shell and rock. I left a tear drop shell in a special place also which was significant because we were blessed by rain during ceremony.
One of the observations I have noticed since I started working on water issues and Water Ceremony, with the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites, is that I am forever thirsty. Northwest Wisconsin experienced a seven-year drought . I am conscious of having a dry mouth and wanting to drink water.
NOTE: Parts of this state’s North Woods and the adjacent Upper Peninsula of Michigan are the only areas in the continental USA experiencing “extreme” drought. It’s the region’s most severe drought since the 1930s and its longest dry period since the 1950s, says Roy Eckberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Green Bay, Wis. Learn more at http://www.usatoday.com/weather/drought/2010-06-24-drought_N.htm
I am grateful for all the rain in 2011 even though we have had to deal with strange, unpredictable and more frequent violent storms. Even the clouds have changed to forms I have never seen before. Now I keep a weather radio on.
I am secure in knowing that there is pure water at the artesian well in the woods where sweet water flows to the surface from deep within Mother Earth. What a happy woodlands it is that surrounds the artesian well. Even though the trip is long and I need to drive 60 miles round trip from Minong to Shell Lake and back, I am happiest when I am drinking this precious pure water.
After the Water Ceremony Godavari wrote, “Thanks so much, so very much, for having us at your place, especially right after the trauma of the storms, when it must have been hard for you to get ready. I like that it rained on our ceremony. In Siddha Yoga rain is auspicious (highly beneficial, a good omen) because it is a blessing upon the earth and its people. As you said, it is life itself. After our ceremony, I began drinking water with much gratitude, knowing we are blessed to have clean water on this part of the earth. And inside, I feel a purification beginning, which the water ceremony seemed to launch. Purifying me of anger and resentment, making space for greater love. So in a personal way too, I am grateful to you for leading us in honoring water, in honoring Mother Earth.
Note: Godavari means goddess of a holy river, and there is a River Godavari, as they call it there, near the Siddha Yoga ashram in India.
Worth Cooley-Prost says, “My part of Water Ceremony was brief and on the move, but held my Heart and I hope added something Good to the whole. My old (85 now!) friend Dot, who co-founded the Light Group in Kinston NC in the early 1970s, brought me a little container of water from there. (It used to be artesian well water, now it’s a mix of that and water from the Neuse River… anyway, Water from close-to-me Ancestors’ home since 1841 or so.) And our car smelled so wonderful with sage lit!
Mary Ellen Ryall is a Council Guide of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites and Executive Director of Happy Tonics, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization and public charity. Ryall is the author of My Name is Butterfly published in 2011 by Salt of the Earth Press. The book will be available on Amazon shortly.
The fully illustrated children’s book gives testimony of why native plants are important for pollinators. The charming book teaches about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and its only host plant milkweed. Over the last eight years Ryall has planted milkweed at the sand dunes. Monarch butterflies flitted about the day of the Water Ceremony. This is another good sign that the monarch butterfly abounds in Minong in and near the sand dunes.
Today Happy Tonics is coordinating a National butterfly count on Facebook which has been upgraded to an International Butterfly Count. We have confirmed butterfly friends as far away as Nottingham, England. Butterfly enthusiasts in several states in North America are participating also.
I had planned to orchastrate the count from our two habitats in Shell Lake, Wisconsin (WI), USA. However a powerful tornado (documented in Solan Springs – 20 miles from Minong on Hwy. 53) literally came crashing through the village of Minong, WI on July 1. It took down all the old red pine and hardwood trees on the property. I am in the middle of a natural disaster on my 1/2 acre that once stood proud with aged trees of red pine and Chinese elms.
The good news is the butterflies were not harmed. They have been fluttering around the property for days now. Today I will honor the butterfly count from the property where I live. This is a healing therapy for me to think about what survives in Climate Change. I speak about violent storms because I believe they are a proven perdiction of scientists. One has to adapt. I feel as en envirmental educator I am walking the talk. I am drafting the start of this blog later and you will be able to read it as I process my own personal experience.
On July 2, one day after the storm I started looking on the milkweed to see if there was monarch life. Take a look at this! I felt so elated to know the the next generation of monarchs were alive and well and eating milkweed leaves. I should name this caterpillar “Survivor.” How did they withstand 90 mph winds? It boggles the mind.
For now, take the day off if you are celebrating America’s Independance Day. The butterfly count will confirm how pollinators do in severe weather conditions at least from this part of the country. I heard on the radio this morning that el nino or la nina seasons can bring severe weather also.
Mary Ellen Ryall reporting from Minong, WI, USA – National Butterfly Count.
Be well insectamonarca friends where ever you are.